The Denny Chimes (Building #1045) is a 115-foot-tall belltower equipped with a 25-bell carillon, located on the south side of The Quad of the University of Alabama fronting University Boulevard in Tuscaloosa.
The tower was named in honor of former University president George Denny, who served from 1912 to 1936 and again in 1941. Today, the tower is often recognized as the most visible landmark of the campus. The tower is art deco in design and features a concrete base followed by a brick shaft that gradually tapers towards its concrete top.
The idea of erecting a clock tower on campus was initially suggested in 1919 to be constructed as a war memorial for those who fought in World War I. Due to an inability to secure funding for its construction, the tower was not completed at that time. However, by the late 1920s, university students were successful in collecting the necessary funding for its construction. This was done in an effort to dedicate the structure to then university president George Denny after hearing a rumor stating he was looking to leave the university and return to his native Virginia. Constructed by Skinner, Maxwell and Company at a final cost of $40,000, the tower was dedicated on May 27, 1929, with governor Bibb Graves in attendance.
The carillon features 25 cast bronze bells, with the largest having a circumference of about eleven feet and a height of three feet. The chimes ring every 15 minutes, chiming on the hour in addition to chiming other songs or the alma mater as part of university celebrations or holidays. Inside the base is an automatic player that plays roll music in addition to a keyboard console that is used on special occasions. For many years the Alabama organ professor Warren Hutton served as the carillonneur for memorial services and special events, and today the manual organ is played by both university faculty and students.
By 1945, the bell carillon was converted into an electronic system and modernized in 1966. The 1966 modernization was complete with a rededication ceremony on May 28. The system was completed by Schulmerich Carillons of Pennsylvania with internationally known carillonneur David Klein delivering the inaugural performance.
Walk of Fame
Surrounding the tower is the Walk of Fame, whereby captains of the football team have placed their hand and footprints in cement slabs at its base since 1948, with only a brief interruption between 1971 and 1975. The ceremony annually occurs as part of the A-Day festivities, whereby the previous seasons captains are honored.
The names enshrined as part of the Walk of Fame are as follows:
- Historical Marker Program for Tuscaloosa County: Denny Chimes, The Alabama Historical Association, accessed April 27, 2011
- Denny Chimes, University of Alabama Virtual tour, accessed April 27, 2011
- Staff Reporters (May 27, 1949) "Anniversary noted for Denny Chimes". p. 3 The Tuscaloosa News
- Staff Reporters (May 27, 1966) "A new era chiming in". p. 9 The Tuscaloosa News
- Browning, Al (April 6, 1976) "Crimson Tide tradition gets a fresh breath". p. 8 The Tuscaloosa News
- Vickery, Scottie (September 2, 1998) "For old chimes' sake: Electronic technician keeps bells ringing in UA landmark" The Birmingham News p. G1
- Coulter, Lucinda (October 27, 2006) "Behind the chimes". The Tuscaloosa News
- Morton, Jason (April 10, 2008) "A-Day anticipation". The Tuscaloosa News